Quincy Barker

Baker enthusiast, Quincy Barker, shares with us what it means to live a dairy-free life.

Please tell us about your journey to living dairy-free.

It started when I was a young child. Dairy never agreed with me and back then and the alternatives just weren’t as accessible. When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. As I tried to navigate my way to remission, one commonality kept reoccurring – dairy. More than ever, it caused me pain, inflammation, discomfort, low energy levels and took me ten steps back from where I wanted to be. As I began to slowly cut dairy from my diet, I also started to see positive results. The better I started to feel, the less I wanted dairy, which has led me to be completely dairy free now for about twelve years. Since I have such a sweet tooth, it has led me to baking and enjoying treats that are nutritiously dairy free.

What’s your go-to workout?

My go-to workout would have to be functional strength training. I love how versatile it is, in that it can be high-intensity, low intensity, with or without equipment. I love that it gets you sweating while building and strengthening muscles that you use in everyday life. I love to workout outdoors in the fresh air, but I’m not a big fan of Canadian winters, so I am now working out in the basement as gyms are currently closed. I enjoy low to medium weight with high reps because it gets my sweat on and I always feel great mentally and physically afterwards.

What does an average day in your life look like? What’s the best thing you get to do in a day, and the hardest?

An average weekday for me would be getting up around 6:15am, getting at least a 45-minute workout in, followed by a protein shake (dairy free, of course!). I would then head to work where I get to pursue another passion of mine, teaching music. I love working with youth and creating music together. It isn’t an easy job, but it is often very rewarding. After a loud and energetic day of working with kids, I get to come home to my supportive partner and cat. Since I usually get home before my partner, I like to squeeze in some dairy-free baking before dinner. I find baking to be a relaxing and enjoyable activity to help me unwind from the busy day. It also offers a delicious reward at the end. After dinner in the warmer months, we go for a walk almost every night to talk and share news about the day’s events, while also unwinding with some light exercise.

What’s the best advice you could give to someone who is just new to living dairy-free?

Making any changes to our diet can be challenging and overwhelming at times. To transition successfully to living dairy-free, start small. There are many staple items that are an easy and accessible place to start, such as replacing your regular milk with a plant-based milk, switching up your ice-cream to a coconut-based version, or changing that block of cheese to a dairy-free version. You may need to experiment with brands to find what you like, but it can be a fun experience, especially when you find “the one”. As you take that next step further, my biggest piece of advice would be to always read ingredient labels. There have been so many times I assume there couldn’t be dairy in that, yet to find out that there is. It only takes a moment to read over the ingredients and it is so worth it. Why is there milk in a hot dog or rice crackers?!

If you managed to realize your wildest dreams, how would the world look different?

This is a tough question and others might only understand this if they have had food sensitivities, but I would wish that we use food in a proactive way in order to prevent illness, heal and energize our bodies. This is the point of food, but it isn’t always used this way, especially in North America. The internet has changed the way we think about food and for me, My wish is that through my dairy-free life, I can help inspire others to take that step towards the dairy-free life that they may have been wanting to take but haven’t been sure how to do so. The more we listen to our bodies, the better relationship we will have with our bodies, physically and mentally and I wish that connection for everybody.